Jeff Bauman, Bret Witter
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When Jeff Bauman woke up on Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 in the Boston Medical Center, groggy from a series of lifesaving surgeries and missing his legs, the first thing he did was try to speak. When he realized he couldn't, he asked for a pad and paper and wrote down seven words: "Saw the guy. Looked right at me," setting off one of the biggest manhunts in the country's history.
Just thirty hours before, Jeff had been at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon cheering on his girlfriend, Erin, when the first bomb went off at his feet. As he was rushed to the hospital, he realized he was severely injured and that he might die, but he didn't know that a photograph of him in a wheelchair was circulating throughout the world, making him the human face of the Boston Marathon bombing victims, or that what he'd seen would give the Boston police their most important breakthrough.
Up until the marathon, Jeff had been a normal 27-year-old guy, looking forward to moving in with Erin and starting the next phase of their lives together. But when his life was turned upside down in ways he could never have fathomed, Jeff did not give up. Instead he faced his new circumstances with grace, humor, and a sense of purpose: he was determined, no matter what, to walk again.
In STRONGER, Jeff describes the chaos and terror of the bombing itself and the ongoing FBI investigation in which he was a key witness. He takes us inside his grueling rehabilitation, and discusses his attempt to reconcile the world's admiration with his own guilt and frustration. And he tells of the courage of his fellow survivors. Brave, compassionate, and emotionally compelling, Jeff Bauman's story is not just his, but ours as well. It proves that the terrorists accomplished nothing with their act of cowardice and shows the entire world what Boston Strong really means.
told me he wasn’t sure what happened next. He just went crazy with grief. He wanted to be alone, but the Marines wouldn’t leave his front yard until his wife—Alex’s stepmom—came home. He became agitated, then angry. He went into the garage, grabbed a gas can and a blowtorch, and locked himself in the front seat of the Marines’ van. He doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire. He denied it later, but I think he was trying to kill himself. Instead, the van exploded, hurling him onto his
those handheld shower nozzles.” “Ah, Ma, I told you he was going to need that last week.” It was obvious Tim wasn’t feeling too good. “Okay,” he muttered, when Mom wouldn’t let it go. “I’ll come over this afternoon.” “No, Tim, you gotta get over here now. Your brother needs you.” Tim showed up a half hour later. He looked like hell, and he was hopping on one foot. He couldn’t even put his right foot on the ground. “We went to the Hong Kong after the party,” he admitted. “Vinnie gave us free
all my new friends, but the exercises were brutal, especially now that I had a new physical therapist, Michelle Kerr, who specialized in prosthetics. My left leg was weaker than my right, and that was a problem. “How do I balance them?” I asked her. “You work both of them harder.” It was more of the same: leg lifts, sit-ups, push-ups. I was strong enough now to hold myself in a crunch position with my legs lifted, so Michelle gave me a medicine ball and made me turn side to side, working my
didn’t want to be some sort of greeter, like a store mascot. If I was at the front of the store, with my artificial legs, it would be a circus. I wanted Erin. She didn’t have to ask what I needed, because she knew what I was going through. She would tell me to lie down when she knew my legs were hurting. She would give me a hug when I woke up in the morning and tried to get out of bed. I had terrible nightmares. I don’t remember what they were about, but I’d wake up sweating and feverish. Erin
applesauce. I’ve planned to three times, but I’ve always found an excuse to back out. One day I’ll go there, before next year’s marathon, for sure, just not quite yet. But I visited the site of the shootout. I’ve seen that tree. It’s six inches around at most and pocked with bullet holes. The officers must have crapped their pants when they returned the next day and saw how small it was. “I thought it was a sequoia,” Sergeant MacLellan said. “I thought it was big as a house.” Four guns were